When you're trying to target your lower abs, all abs-strengthening moves are not created equal. Fact is, some are much more effective at working those tough-to-get-to muscles. So we asked celebrity trainer Michelle Lovitt, an Asics America conditioning coach, for her top moves to target your lower belly. She came through with these five super-tough ones you'll love (after the fact, at least).
This core-stabilizing move improves strength throughout your coreÃ¢â‚¬”especially in your lower abs, says Lovitt. Bonus: It also builds lower back strength, she says.
How to Do It: Begin in a plank position with your body forming a straight line from your shoulders to your ankles (A). Rotate to your left side and into a side plank. Hold for 10 seconds (B), then rotate into a right side plank and hold for another 10 seconds. That's one rep. Return to a plank position and repeat.
Although this is a multi-tasking move that works you whole body, Lovitt says its main target is your lower abs—it engages your abdominals and oblique muscles (for stability) while also working your hips and low back.
How to Do It: Assume a pushup position with your arms completely straight. Your body should form a straight line from your shoulders to your ankles (A). Lift your right knee toward your left elbow (B), lower, then raise your left knee toward your right elbow. That's one rep.
Want even more great abs moves? Try this one-dumbbell workout:
Since this move requires you to roll your body out one vertebra at a time (in other words, very slowly), you engage the deep abdominal muscles in your lower abs. You also use those deep abs muscles to keep your pelvis stable when you come back up, says Lovitt. "This is an amazing overall abs exercise," she says.
How to Do It: Lie flat with your legs squeezed together, your feet flexed at the ankles, and your arms reaching back close to your ears (A). Inhale with control as you bring your arms forward, shoulder-width apart, and plant the backs of your shoulders on the mat. The back is flat. Continue inhaling as you lift your head through your arms and begin rolling up and forward, one vertebra at a time (B). Exhale with control as you continue forward, reaching your arms across the room and trying to touch your forehead to your knees (C). Reverse the movements as you inhale with control back to position A. That's one rep.
This move really targets those tricky muscles in your lower belly, plus it works your rectus abdominus (as in, your six-pack muscles), hips, and low back, says Lovitt.
How to Do It: Assume a pushup position with your arms completely straight. Rest your shins on a Swiss ball. Your body should form a straight line from your head to your ankles (A). Without changing your lower back posture, roll the Swiss ball toward your chest by pulling it forward with your feet. Pause (B), then return the ball to the starting position by rolling it backward. That's one rep.
Lovitt says she loves this move for tackling your lower abs because it engages the deep psoas muscle (a muscle in your stomach in front of your spine), your low back, and of course, your lower abs.
How to Do It: Grab a chinup bar with an overhand shoulder-width grip, and hang from the bar with your knees slightly bent and feet together (A). Simultaneously bend your knees, raise your hips, and curl your lower back underneath you as you lift your thighs toward your chest. Pause when the fronts of your thighs reach your chest (B), then slowly lower your legs back to the starting position.
Exercise how-tos adapted from The Women's Health Big Book of Exercises, The Women's Health Big Book of Pilates, and The Women's Health Big Book of Abs. For even more moves, get The Women's Health Big Book of Exercises, The Women's Health Big Book of Pilates and Women's Health Big Book of Abs today!